Movie Review: Shithouse (2020)

Now on demand via Showtime.

The first year of college can feel like you’re on the verge of something amazing or the brink of tears, and for the homesick protagonist of the breakout 2020 South by Southwest film Shithouse (aka Freshman Year) (A-), it’s a vulnerable journey from mope to hope. Cooper Raif is writer, director and star of this DIY gem of a film with lived-in performances, droll dialogue and a generally appealing scrappiness portending a star being born. Dylan Gelula is excellent as the resident advisor and potential romantic partner who beguiles the confused frosh, and Logan Miller is the unreliable roommate who first tells our hero about the irreverent titular party headquarters where destinies could take a turn. There are undercurrents of Before Sunrise here in the talky travelogue of campus life but with characters who are sending very mixed signals. Raif is funny and fresh and doesn’t mind wearing his emotions on his sleeve and gives a great speech about those in a relationship at least needing to be on the same team. There are many creative conceits involving an encouraging childhood plush toy who communicates in subtitles, a wake for a reptile and a botched sex scene filmed as awkwardly as its confusing content. This is one of those movies the viewer simply chills with as opposed to being bombarded with constant jokes, and the hang is definitely worth it.

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